Contracting waste, fraud 'significant' in Afghanistan, IG says

Thursday - 4/19/2012, 12:01pm EDT

Steven Trent, acting SIGAR

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The watchdog overseeing contracting in Afghanistan said the amount of waste and fraud is "significant" in that country.

"Contingency contracting is an area that is susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse, more so, certainly, than domestic government contracting," said Steven Trent, acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

Steven Trent (SIGAR.gov)

Last year, the Commission Wartime Contracting found that the United States lost between $31 billion and $60 billion to waste, fraud and abuse in wartime contracts during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last month, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced legislation to overhaul the government's planning, management and oversight of wartime-support contracting. The proposal includes a provision that would automatically suspend a contractor charged with in a civil or criminal proceeding.

In Afghanistan so far, suspension and debarment has been a "somewhat effective tool to employ," Trent said "We've been, frankly, on the leading edge of that at SIGAR in the last year."

Trent said he applauded the Senate proposal for looking at "the larger problems of contracting in an contingency environment."

On the legislation, he added, "Suspension and debarment has been around for a long time, and it relies upon the current determination of the responsibility of the company as to whether or not they can continue to contract with the government, and I think an automatic suspension throws that whole sort of predisposition, throws those considerations into a different light. And that's something that needs to be considered."

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